There’s not much left to play for at this point for the New York Giants. After their loss to the Jets, they’re pretty clearly out of the race to be competitive in the division, even though the writing has been on the wall ever since the beginning of the season when the Giants dropped back to back games to start things off. There’s always pride to play for, and some players are playing for their jobs, but the Giants right now aren’t in reach of most of the goals they would have come into the season with.
So why are players like Saquon Barkley still risking their health by going out there?
It’s understandable why Barkley wanted to play against the Jets – the New York rivalry is important for bragging rights and the Giants had a chance to snap a big losing streak against a team that all of their fans would like to see them beat. And NFL players are all competitive, on top of that. Few players will miss time if they have the option of coming back.
Still, the decision on which players sit and which ones play falls on the head coach and the rest of the organization, and Pat Shurmur sent Barkley out in a game where his performance shows he clearly isn’t the same player that he was before the injury. Barkley’s two performances back show he could use further recovery time, but it doesn’t seem that’s in the plans for the Giants.
Sterling Shepard is in a similar spot, although the Giants have shown more caution with Shepard – he hasn’t returned since being concussed again, but earlier in the season, Shepard being sent back out quickly following his first concussion may have played into the second one happening in the first place.
The Giants sending Shepard back out as soon as he was able to play might have been more understandable in the past, when the team wasn’t as far removed from being competitive, but that’s not the case with their handling of Barkley. The season is already lost. There’s no need to risk the team’s most important franchise player unnecessarily when he clearly isn’t one hundred percent and when nothing is at stake except for draft position at this point.
Besides, in his partially injured state, it’s not as if Barkley has outperformed Wayne Gallman. His two games after coming back have been some of the worst of his career, and the Giants aren’t in more of a winning position from sending Barkley out when he’s not fully ready to play again.
It’s hard to say whether Barkley needs to miss the entire season at this point, and the same goes for Shepard, but based on how things appear so far, it seems like both players could use a long break before they hit the field again. The Giants have already been allowing Shepard to have that. The question now is, will they do the same with Barkley rather than risking the health of one of their key players for little benefit?